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Learning disability

Learning disability

Over 1.2 million people in England have a learning disability and face significant health inequalities compared with the rest of the population.

People with a learning disability, autism or both often experience poorer access to healthcare.

About 20% to 30% of people with a learning disability also have autism.

The term learning disability and intellectual disability are used by different people and organisations to describe the same condition. Learning disability is the official term used by NHS England and is used for a child or adult with a reduced intellectual ability and difficulty with everyday activities (Valuing People 2001 NHS England). The term intellectual disability is used by the World Health Organisation and some countries.

Our vision

Children, young people and adults with a learning disability, autism or both have the right to the same opportunities as anyone else to live satisfying and valued lives, and to be treated with dignity and respect.

People with a learning disability should have a home of their own within their community, be able to develop and maintain relationships, and have the support needed to live healthy, safe and rewarding lives.

Learning Disability Nurses

HEE has been working in partnership with other organisations to create the All-England Plan for Learning Disability Nurses. This is an easy read version. The plan outlines our commitment to making sure we have enough learning disability nurses in the future and details how the NHS plans to improve the quality of care for people with learning disabilities or autism.

Update on the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training in learning disability and autism 

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, HEE, Skills for Care and the Department of Health and Social Care have decided to extend the deadline for tenders for trial and evaluation partners for the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training to 24 April at 18:00. This was communicated on 18 March, to those who had expressed an interest in bidding. The delay of one month extends the time existing bidders have left to submit from 7 to 26 working days.   

Once the tenders have been awarded, we will negotiate the timeline for delivery with partners, recognising the extraordinary demands on health and care services at this time. Therefore, health and care services can focus on dealing with the current pandemic, and potential bidders can decide whether to proceed with this opportunity.  

We remain committed to our work on Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training, which is essential to ensure the health and wellbeing of people with a learning disability and autistic people. We will continue to monitor the emerging situation.

Useful links

Education and skills development

Education and skills development are about all the ways healthcare staff can learn to do their roles to support people with a learning disability, autism or both. It includes how healthcare staff become trained, qualified and stay up-to-date.

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Staffing is about how we plan to make sure there are the right number of trained staff, now and in the future.

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